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Adam Trachtenberg is the Director of the LinkedIn Developer Network, where he oversees developer relations and marketing for the LinkedIn Platform. Before LinkedIn, Adam worked at eBay in platform product management and marketing. Even earlier, he co-founded Student.Com and TVGrid.com. Adam is the author of PHP Cookbook and Upgrading to PHP 5. He lives in San Francisco.

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Book Review: The World Is Flat

I am 364 pages into Tom Friedman’s latest book, The World is Flat. However, even with 100 pages left, I feel compelled to give a brief review of the book.

Read it.

Tim O’Reilly has been flogging the notion of Web 2.0, Web services, and the architecture of participation for quite a few years now. Tom Friedman one ups this, rolling up Tim’s concept with quite a few more into what he calls Globalization 3.0.

Essentially, recent changes have enabled businesses to operate on a global scale that most of us don’t realize. We might think we’re seeing some of it, but we’re not truly getting the entire picture.

For example, two weeks ago I saw a bunch of links to Joe Krause’s blog post It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur. His claim is “There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur because it’s never been cheaper to be one.” And, using Excite vs JotSpot as an example, that it’s 30x cheaper to start a Web company in 2005 than it was 10 years ago.

I think many people read his post and immediately applied it to Silicon Valley or other US startups. And that’s despite Joe’s reference to global outsourcing sites. However, under Globalization 3.0, you need to recognize that all of these factors now apply to companies based in China and India.

Look at his points and see how they apply to countries with hundreds of millions of people. Hardware is a commodity. Open source has commoditized software. The glut of global bandwidth has turned that into a commodity. Now factor in 5-10x lower labor costs.

You end up with a giant group of people ready and able to bootstrap all sorts of technology startups.

It’s already happening. Most people just don’t know it. Tom helps you see it in detail.

If you don’t think this applies to you, check out this Times of India article with this juicy quote:

Says a programmer on Slashdot.org who outsourced his job: “About a year ago I hired a developer in India to do my job. I pay him $12,000 out of the $67,000 I get. He’s happy to have the work. I’m happy that I have to work only 90 minutes a day just supervising the code. My employer thinks I’m telecommuting. Now I’m considering getting a second job and doing the same thing.”

If stupid (heh) slashdot posters can figure this out, don’t you think businesses will catch on soon enough (if they haven’t already) and reorganize you out of a job if you’re not prepared?

By the way, don’t get me wrong, I think this is a good thing. (Read the book to see why.)

When I finish the book, I’m going to start looking for ways to to brush up on my long-dormant Chinese skills.

There Are 5 Responses So Far. »

  1. I’m on page 245 and I hope in the next 150 pages Mr. Friedman offers some advice for folks who don’t have the education, training, IQ, creativity, ambition, skills and energy to prepare themselves for this brave, new, cruel world. I’m 58 and can opt out when I’m desperate enough…but what will happen to my 16 month old granddaughter who has Down syndrome…she’s also cursed with parents who “don’t get it.”

  2. This is the history of the world. When 97% of workers were on farms (not all that long ago historically) some sort of work could be found for close to 100% of people willing to work. With each shift up in the requirements for holding a job, a certain percentage of workers on the bottom rungs became unemployable. Many who could pitch hay on a farm weren’t able to stand on the production line in a factory. This is going to be one of the dilemmas we will face -increasingly- in the future. What kind of society will we be and will it be a decent society for everybody born into it?

  3. my friend was in a starbucks coffie shop and on her cup she read a qoute on her cup from the book “The World Is Flat” i am not sure what it said but she said i had somthing about the world being green…. i know this is an odd request but would you send me the quote if you know what i am talking about.. thanks much..

    Brandon Lindemer

  4. I am probably the odd man out here not jus coz I have read the book twice but also coz I have a different perspective. Put simply, not only does Friedman fail to see the big picture, he is also overwhelmed by the ‘shining’ India and other parts of the world. Although I am guilty of promoting my blog here,


    I think it briefly presents a different perspective.

  5. Hi,

    I have read the book myself, and like most people, have thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Does anyone have any cons about this book? If so, could you please share them.